Elena Acoba on Touching Reader Lives (Writing for the Long Haul series)

Elena Acoba has been writing and editing newspaper articles, marketing pieces, web copy, and other business communications for more than three decades. She joins us today with a non-fiction writer’s perspective on what it means to write for the long haul, and on something writers in all genres seek to do: touch readers’ lives.

acoba_article2When I tell people I’m a writer, often their first impression is that I author books. I don’t.

As a writer and editor of business communications, I craft the messages that companies want to present to their employees, customers and communities. I tell the stories that already exist.

From information comes power. That’s the motto I’ve lived by for decades as I’ve told stories that spur people to action.

Inspired by journalists of the 1960s and 1970s who revealed the truth about the Vietnam War and a corrupt president, I decided to get into the news business. Here I could make a big difference.

elena_article1Once I got into the newsroom, however, I discovered that I didn’t have the stamina to stick with long-form investigative journalism. Instead, I was drawn to the breaking story—controversial city council meetings, campaign speeches, jury decisions—and features that focus on trends.

Journalism didn’t have to be complex to be impactful. I saw that I touched people’s lives in big and, more often, small ways.

  • My story about a monopoly on selling fireworks opened the way for a Boy Scout troop to run a stand to raise money.
  • Adults comforted kids after reading my article about how children watched on television as the Challenger shuttle exploded.
  • Spectators cheered a couple riding in the Tucson Rodeo Parade on their 50th wedding anniversary because of the feature I wrote on how the couple watched the procession on their honeymoon.

I moved to corporate communications in 1989. The focus is different; now I write about the stories of companies and organizations. But my personal mission is the same: Let people know something that will touch their lives.

acoba_pimaBased on comments I’ve heard, I know that my work has saved a household money on its phone bill, convinced a Chicagoan to ditch the Illinois winter for a warm Arizona vacation and assured an employee that a company expansion wouldn’t affect his job.

This kind of feedback over the decades confirms that as a writer I am making a difference in my work as messenger, revealer, teacher.

IMG_2679low_resElena Acoba has been a professional writer since 1978 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach. Her award-winning work has appeared for the Coast Media chain of community newspapers (Los Angeles area), the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Arizona Daily Star, Pima Community College, and the Arizona Office of Tourism in partnership with Madden Media Inc.

Previous Writing for the Long Haul Posts

Steve Miller on building a writing life
Sharon Lee on remembering we’re not alone
Betty G. Birney on always challenging ourselves
Nora Raleigh Baskin on making deals with the writing gods
Sean Williams on unpredictability and luck
Deborah J. Ross on writing through crisis
Sharon Shinn on managing time
Marge Pellegrino on feeding the restless yearning to write
Sarah Zettel on embracing ignorance and writing your passions
Uma Krishnaswami on honoring unreasonable exuberance
Jennifer J. Stewart on finding community and support
Sherwood Smith on keeping inspiration alive
Mette Ivie Harrison on defining success
Jeffrey J. Mariotte on why we write
Judith Tarr on reinventing ourselves
Kathi Appelt on the power of story
Cynthia Leitich Smith on balancing business and creativity

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